Record Number of Women Are Now Primary Breadwinner

A new Pew report has found that a record number of American women are now the sole or primary breadwinner in their families.

woman businessThe Daily Mail is reporting on the study released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center which found that 40 percent of households with children are now being supported by women. While most of these families are headed by single mothers, a growing number are married mothers who earn more than their husbands.

In total, 13.7 million households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are the main breadwinner. Of that number, 5.1 million (37%) are married, and 8.6 million (63%) are single.

To put these numbers in perspective, the share of married breadwinner moms jumped from four percent in 1960 to 15 percent in 2011. For single mothers, the rate increased by seven percent in 1960 to 25 percent today.

“This change is just another milestone in the dramatic transformation we have seen in family structure and family dynamics over the past 50 years or so,” said Kim Parker, associate director with the Pew Social & Demographic Trends Project, to the Mail.

“Women’s roles have changed, marriage rates have declined — the family looks a lot different than it used to. The rise of breadwinner moms highlights the fact that, not only are more mothers balancing work and family these days, but the economic contributions mothers are making to their households have grown immensely.”

Part of the reason for the numbers shift is that women are now more likely than men to hold college degrees, and they make up nearly half (47%) of the total American workforce.

Other reasons are the big job losses in high-paying, male-dominated manufacturing and construction jobs during the recent recession which resulted in lifting the relative earnings of married women.

Americans remain ambivalent about whether women working outside the home is a good thing. While 79 percent don’t want to see women forced back into traditional roles, only 21 percent think mothers of young children who work outside the home is a good thing for society. Nearly three out of every four adults say they believe working women make it harder for parents to raise children.

Some believe this will result in more family-friendly work policies such as paid family leave and “safety net” policies such as food stamps or child care support for single working mothers.

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